The Sámi Parliamentary Council deeply concerned about the lack of progression with the Act on the Sámi Parliament

The Sámi Parliamentary Council (SPC) is deeply concerned that the Finnish government has not yet submitted the act to the Parliament of Finland. The council demands the end of the current human rights treaty violations in Finland and necessary actions to secure the Sámi Peoples’ right to self-determination through the Sámi Parliament in Finland as a representative body.

The Sámi Parliamentary Council, the co-operational body for the Sámi parliaments in Finland, Norway, and Sweden, has referred to the process of a new Sámi Parliament Act in Finland. The statement was signed by the President of the Sámi Parliamentary Council and the Sámi Parliament in Sweden Håkan Jonsson, the Vice President of the Sámi Parliamentary Council and the President of Sámi Parliament in Norway Silje Karine Muotka and the Vice President of the Sámi Parliamentary Council and the President of the Sámi Parliament in Finland Tuomas Aslak Juuso.

The Sámi Parliamentary Council recalls that, under article 33 of the United Nations Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples, Indigenous Peoples have the right to determine their own identity or membership in accordance with their customs and traditions, and the right to determine the structures and to select the membership of their institutions in accordance with their own procedures.

The Council further recalls that the Human Rights Committee and the Committee on the Elimination of Racial Discrimination have concluded that the current Sami Parliament Act violates human rights treaties (CCPR/C/124/D/2668/2015 and CERD/C/106/D/59/2016).

The Council corrects misinformation concerning the election criteria

The Sámi Parliamentary Council has also noticed misinformation in Finland about the electoral role, falsely claiming that the amended criteria in the new act would make the criteria much stricter on the Finnish side than the Swedish and Norwegian sides.

– The fact is that the amended criteria would be similar to the criteria on the Norwegian side and in full compliance with the criteria in the Nordic Sami Convention, in which, at this point, all the parties (Sweden, Finland, Norway, and the three Sámi Parliaments) have agreed on, the Council notes.

Read the full statement here

Inquiries:

Tuomas Aslak Juuso
President of the Sámi Parliament
Tel. +358 40 687 3394
tuomas.juuso@samediggi.fi

More information on the Sámi Parliamentary Council

The Sámi Parliamentary Council (SPC) is the co-operational body for the Sámi parliaments in Finland, Norway and Sweden. The Sámi parliaments in Norway, Sweden and Finland each lead the council for a period of 16 months. The secretariat is the Sámi Parliament which is in charge of the council at that time. Sámi Parliament’s Plenum chooses the representatives for the electoral period.

Expert Workshop to assess proposals for amending the Sámi Parliament Act in Finland on 2 September

An Expert Workshop to assess proposals for amending the Sámi Parliament Act in Finland will be held at the Faculty of Law at the University of Lapland on Thursday 2 September 2021. The Worksop is organized in collaboration with the Sámi Parliament and the Ministry of Justice. The organizer of the workshop is Professor Martin Scheinin in his capacity as part-time professor in indigenous peoples’ rights at the University of Lapland. The main purpose of the event is to provide a forum for a range of international, Finnish and Sámi experts to provide and discuss their assessment of the draft by the drafting commission. 

Kuva: Ville Fofonoff

The President of the Sámi Parliament Tuomas Aslak Juuso will participate in the seminar and give one of the opening speeches. – The reform of the Sámi Parliament Act is a very current topic and I look forward with great interest to the expert workshop. It is important that the workshop provides a forum for international human rights experts to evaluate and discuss their assessment of the draft by the drafting commission, says Juuso. 

The members of the drafting commission appointed by the Sámi Parliament will also attend to the workshop.  

The event will be organized in hybrid mode, so that speakers and other participants will be able attend either in person or remotely through online videoconferencing. Registration to the workshop has ended on 15 August. Registered participants will receive materials and logistical information related to the event.  

In May 2021, a government-appointed Drafting Commission chaired by the Permanent Secretary of the Ministry of Justice and composed, in equal numbers, of persons nominated by the Sámi Parliament in Finland, and the five political parties forming the government coalition, delivered a draft for amendments to the Sámi Parliament Act. The proposed amendments would recognize Sámi self-determination, implement Final Views issued by the UN Human Rights Committee related to the criteria and procedure for determining who may be included in the electoral roll of the Sámi Parliament, and strengthen domestic law provisions related to the principle of free, prior and informed consent, as enshrined in the UN Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples. 

The full report exists only in Finnish but the summary and the proposed legal texts are included also in Sámi and Swedish languages. Persons who register for the 2 September workshop will be sent English-language excerpts, as far as they already exist or will become available.  

More information: 

Tuomas Aslak Juuso 
The president of the Sámi Parliament 
+358 40 687 3394 
tuomas.juuso@samediggi.fi  

UN Human Rights Committee: The decisions of the Supreme Administrative Court of Finland on the electoral roll of the Sámi Parliament’s election in 2015 were a violation of human rights

The UN Human Rights Committee, which monitors the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights ratified by Finland, published on 1 February 2019 two views on the communications submitted to it concerning decisions made by the Supreme Administrative Court of Finland on the Sámi Parliament’s election in 2015. One of the claims was submitted by President of the Sámi Parliament Tiina Sanila-Aikio, as authorized by its Executive Board.

The case dealt with the matter of admitting persons into the electoral roll of the Sámi Parliament pursuant to decisions made by the Supreme Administrative Court of Finland (KHO) on 30 September 2015.

Sanila-Aikio considers the Committee’s view a good one. “Of course, it means that the UN Human Rights Committee confirms, through its authority, what we have been saying all the time. The Supreme Administrative Court should not have departed from the formulation of the Sámi Parliament Act and replaced the Sámi people’s right to self-determination by its own ‘overall consideration’, ignoring the thorough work done by the Sámi Parliament’s Election Committee on the individual assessment of each application. We now need to discuss whether to submit an annulment application to the Supreme Administrative Court in order to restore a lawful state as regards the issue.”

In its view, the Human Rights Committee finds that the decisions made by the Supreme Administrative Court through which 93 persons were entered in the Sámi Parliament’s electoral roll against the stand of the Sámi Parliament’s Election Committee and Executive Board violated article 25 of the Covenant on Civil and Political Rights both alone and in conjunction with article 27 as interpreted in light of article 1. Of these articles, article 25 deals with the right of individuals to political participation, article 27 with the rights of minorities, and article 1 with the right of peoples to self-determination.

The Human Rights Committee finds that, ever since 2011, the Finnish Supreme Administrative Court has departed from both the formulation of the Sámi Parliament Act’s section 3 and the consensual interpretation of the section by applying its own “overall consideration” instead of the objective criteria required by the Act. The individual assessment of whom to enter in the electoral roll undertaken by the Sámi Parliament’s Election Committee had specifically been based on the criteria provided by law, leading to the decision of not including 93 persons in the roll.

Through its view, the Human Rights Committee has supported the view of the Sámi Parliament’s Election Committee and Executive Board, finding that the interpretation of the Supreme Administrative Court departed from the Act and was not based on reasonable and objective criteria.

In accordance with article 2(3) of the Covenant on Civil and Political Rights, a State party is under an obligation to provide effective remedy for human rights violations when they have been found to have occurred. In its decision, the Committee finds that this entails “ensuring full reparation”. This may require that the Supreme Administrative Court annul its own decisions. The Human Rights Committee separately states that Finland is obliged to review section 3 of the Sámi Parliament Act with a view to ensuring that the criteria for eligibility to vote in the Sámi Parliament’s elections are defined and applied in practice in a manner that respects the right of the Sámi people to exercise their internal self-determination. Finland is also under an obligation to take all steps necessary to prevent similar violations in the future.

The decision of the Human Rights Committee also includes a complementary opinion by one of the members, which comes to the same conclusion as the entire Committee but contains additional grounds.

Finland must, within six months, report to the Committee on the measures taken to give effect to the Committee’s views.

The decision is available on the website of the Human Rights Committee at: https://tbinternet.ohchr.org/Treaties/CCPR/Shared%20Documents/FIN/CCPR_C_124_D_2668_2015_28169_E.pdf

The news release of 1 Feb. 2019 of the Finnish Ministry for Foreign Affairs (in Finnish): https://um.fi/ajankohtaista/-/asset_publisher/gc654PySnjTX/content/yk-n-ihmisoikeuskomitealta-kaksi-ratkaisua-saamelaiskarajien-vaaliluetteloon-hyvaksymista-koskevassa-asiassa?p_p_auth=cifAZqe8&curAsset=0&stId=44227

 

Further information

Tiina Sanila-Aikio, President of Sámi Parliament in Finland, tel. +358 50 300 1780, tiina.sanila-aikio(at)samediggi.fi